The first few hours of my trip to Seattle were so hectic, and quite maddening. When we booked our rental car, we found a "deal" through a company called Fox Car Rental. The price was about $100 cheaper than any other company, and came with some bad reviews, but we decided to go with it anyway. Now our plan for the first 24 hours was very tight, and we needed to be right on schedule. we were to land at midnight, get the car, drive 2 hours to Anacortes where we would sleep in the car for about 4 hours before we boarded the ferry to San Juan Island and 6:40am.
As we got to the Fox rental desk, we were informed that they had zero cars available! Yes, thats right. Us, along with 5 or 6 other groups were told that they don't have any rental cars. I thought the agent was messing with us at first. But no, this was actually happening. How do you not have any cars available? Immediately we knew the reviews were warranted. Absolutely infuriating at midnight.
Panicking, we ran around to 4 different rental companies to see if there were any cars available. Either they were out, or they had corvettes for $800+ for 2 days. Finally we came upon our savior, Dollar Rental. We were able to secure a new Toyota 4Runner. We got in, drove through the garage to the security both and gave the gentleman the paperwork.
The very nice security agent calmly informed us that he could not let us through the gate, because the 3 cars behind us were in the process of being stolen by some kids. What!? If he let us through and opened the gate arm, the 3 cars would get through and steal the cars. So we sat there as his supervisor called the police, and watched the drivers behind us start to panic. Finally, the kids jumped out as a cop came barreling around the corner and started running! Finally the agent let us through so we could drive the 2 hours to Anacortes. What a way for Seattle to welcome us!
We were able to get a few hours of uncomfortable sleep, before loading the car onto the very for the hour ride to San Juan Island. Make sure to reserve the ferry a few weeks early if you plan on bringing your car onto the ferry, which is $10. Once you get there, you will have to pay the ferry fee, which was $79 for 2 people and our vehicle. That is round trip, so it includes the ride back from Friday Harbor(San Juan Island) You can find info on the ferry here. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/TakeaFerry/
We got to Friday Harbor, drove off the ferry and drove to Lime Kiln State Park, where I read that its a relatively good place to whale watch from the shore. We hung out for about an hour, when our whale watching tour company called us, and asked if we could switch our sunset cruise to a military style raft trip a few hours earlier than originally planned. So we drove the 20 minutes back to the harbor and checked in to our new cruise.
San Juan Safaris was the company we used, and they gave us some insulated coveralls and thick winter jackets to put on. Now its August, and about 90 degrees. But we quickly found that out on the water, it gets really cold! I was wearing a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, so I'm extremely happy the take it in their own hands to accommodate unprepared tourists.
We saw eagles, harbor seals and a beautiful humpback whale. The famous orcas avoided us on this trip, but I'll be back to find them one day!
Beautiful Views in the San Juan Islands
After the tour, we needed to find something to eat. We got the advice from our hotel desk manager, to go to Cask and Shooner's. man was he right. The food was so good, we ate there twice! we got different dishes and appetizers each time, and it was all so good. As you can probably imagine, we hit a wall and decided to call it an early night. We were literally running on coffee and adrenaline.
We had to be up early to jump on the ferry and head back to Anacortes, so we could spend our final day in downtown Seattle. Let me tell you right now, if you can book the 5:40am ferry from San Juan to Anacortes, DO IT! We got to see an absolutely amazing sunrise over the islands in such a serene, peaceful setting. the colors, the cold breeze, the calm, glassy water, was breathtaking. To top it off, a lady sat on the top floor, playing her banjo the whole way there! She was amazing. She sang and played her heart out. I could help but sit there and listen as the sun came up. Just a fantastic experience.
That ferry was hard to beat. But eventually it came to an end, and we drove from the ferry back to Seattle, where we checked into our hotel, an old, charming budget hotel named Hotel Seattle, about 2 blocks from Pike Place Market. Now Pike Place Market is one of the best places in the US to people watch. Street performers, local food and fresh seafood line the street. It reminds me of Quincy Market in Boston, just full of life and local flavor. We even got to see the famous fisherman through the salmon to each other whenever someone would buy a fish.
After having fun wandering the streets of the market, we decided to head to a place to watch the sunset over the Seattle skyline. The best place for that is Kerry Park. It lies up on a hill overlooking Puget Sound and the Seattle skyline with the famous Space Needle front and center. There were quite a few people there to do the same thing we were, so the place is definitely not a secret. But it was absolutely stunning. Watching the light fade from the skyscrapers, and seeing all the lights of the city turn on was an amazing experience.
What a great way to end our 48 hours in Seattle. I could easily spend a week here to explore the area. San Juan Islands, Pike Place Market, Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier, all need to be explored and I'll be back. If you're interested, check out my YouTube channel and my video 48 Hours in Seattle!